Kant’s foundation of moral actions

Scientific Essay, 2009

5 Pages


Kant’s foundation of moral actions

Recently there are on-going discussions in moral philosophy and neurology: Do we act as free agents making moral decisions? Are we accountable for our actions? Do we have a free will? Those who oppose the idea of a free will come to the conclusion that “a living being never truly makes a choice. We only become aware of such things after we have made them.”[1] Kant would have firmly been against this idea when it comes to the foundation of moral principals and moral actions. In this article I will look further into Kant’s position looking for counter arguments and finally show the difference between the free will to wish something and the free will to act according to our will.

Kant asked four basic questions to show the different disciplines of philosophy: What can I know? What ought I to do? For what may I hope? What is a human being?[2] The third and forth question is not important for our inquiry since they are dealing with religion and anthropology. The first question deals with the problem of how we can acknowledge something. In his Critique Of Pure Reason Kant comes to the conclusion that there is no way to know things in themselves. He made a radical change in philosophical thinking saying that the World as it is will always be unknown for us it is the consciousness which creates the world. This philosophical term is called transcendental: “I call all cognition transcendental that is occupied not so much with objects but rather without mode of cognition of objects in so far as this is to be possible a priori.”[3] All objects that we encounter in real life come into existence as visions of our consciousness. This is the starting point of Kant’s philosophy. How does the consciousness work, becomes the central question of his philosophy. Concerning the second main question (What ought I to do?), he takes this transcendental faculty to show that moral principles must derive from reason (Vernunft). Morality cannot be based on empirical facts of humans, because they cannot hold truth for all rational beings. Therefore basic ethical principles are not empirical. They derive from reason and are “a priori” meaning ethical truth is not based on sense experience but evident through thinking alone.[4] Kant says that “what reason brings forth entirely out of itself cannot be hidden, but is brought to light by reason itself as soon as reason’s common principle has been discovered.”[5] Reason contains the idea of truth in our morality. How does Reason work and in which way is it based on free will and morality?


[1] Crabtree, 1999.

[2] Raupach-Strey / Siebert, 1993, 9.

[3] Pippin, 2005, 29.

[4] Kant. (http://www.jcu.edu/philosophy/gensler/ms/kant--00.htm)

[5] Pippin, 2005, 30.

Excerpt out of 5 pages


Kant’s foundation of moral actions
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
421 KB
This article discusses the question of Kant's foundation of moral actions referring to new developments in neurology and sciences.
Kant, morality, Moral, Moralität
Quote paper
Dr. phil. Andreas Heuer (Author), 2009, Kant’s foundation of moral actions, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/134821


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Kant’s foundation of moral actions

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free